Ancestral Connections

The continuation of Aboriginal art and cultural practices has been vital in the ongoing resistance to colonisation in Australia. Since European colonisation, various practices have been historically denied and disrupted, and the knowledge of many techniques has been lost.

Yorta Yorta/Wamba Wamba/Mutti Mutti/Boonwurrung artist and designer Maree Clarke has played a pivotal role in reviving south-east Australian Aboriginal art and cultural practices, by creating works which place them in conversation with contemporary art practices and ideas.

This panel discussion brings together artists, writers and curators whose work, like Clarke’s, engages with lost or dormant elements of Aboriginal culture. Clarke – whose exhibition Ancestral Memories is currently showing at NGV – will be joined by Myles Russell-Cook, Acting Senior Curator of Indigenous Art at the National Gallery of Victoria, and Claire G Coleman, author of Terra Nullius, The Old Lie and Lies, Damned Lies. 

Together, they’ll explore the resilience of traditional Indigenous art and storytelling practices, the role of creatives in reviving culture, and how research, interpretation and curation of Indigenous art can ensure that knowledge continues to be protected from colonisation.

Presented in partnership with the National Gallery of Victoria

The online bookseller for this event is Hill of Content Bookshop

Ancestral Connections


Portrait of Maree Clarke

Maree Clarke

Maree Clarke is a Yorta Yorta/Wamba Wamba/Mutti Mutti/Boonwurrung woman who grew up in northwest Victoria, mainly in Mildura, on the banks of the Murray River. Maree has been a practicing artist living and working in Melbourne for the last three decades and is a pivotal figure in the reclamation of southeast Australian Aboriginal art practices, reviving elements of Aboriginal culture that were lost – or laying dormant - over the period of colonisation. Maree is known for her open and collaborative approach to cultural practice.

Portrait of Claire G. Coleman

Claire G. Coleman

Claire G. Coleman is a Noongar woman whose family have belonged to the south coast of Western Australia since long before history started being recorded. Claire writes fiction, essays, poetry and art writing while either living in Naarm (Melbourne) or on the road. During an extended circuit of the continent she wrote a novel, Terra Nullius, which won the black&write! Indigenous Writing Fellowship and was listed for eight awards including a shortlisting for The Stella Prize. Lies, Damned Lies is her first full length work of non-fiction.

Portrait of Myles Russell-Cook

Myles Russell-Cook

Myles Russell-Cook is Acting Senior Curator of Indigenous Art at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV).  Myles’s passion is for First Nations contemporary art. He has published extensively on art, design and fashion, and curated a number of exhibitions at the NGV. Myles derives much personal and professional influence and inspiration from his maternal Aboriginal heritage in Western Victoria with connections into Tasmania and the Bass Strait Islands.

Portrait of Daniel James

Daniel James

Daniel is an award-winning Yorta Yorta Melbourne based writer and broadcaster. He hosts the Mission on 3RRR and is the winner of the 2018 Horne Prize for his essay Ten More Days.


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